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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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frontiers. Similarly, in the beginning of 1942, the Kremlin began to
use these familiar methods and throw out feelers in this direction, buts
since Russia's shares were then indeed very low, Stalin could not expect
to meet with any appreciable success. The Kremlin,, however, was
quick to realise, and this conviction was rapidly strengthened, that any
action against the members of the Middle Zone, even against the Poles,
who held an exceptional moral position in the Allied camp and beyond,
would not affect Russia's relations with the United Nations. Moscow
now began to act on its own account. Stalin abruptly dispelled the
mirage of a Polish Army in the U.S.S.R., and decided to hold on to the
Poles as hostages. Ambassador Kot was compelled to quit the Soviet
Union; there was nothing more for him to do. All the hopes with which
he had arrived in that country lay in ruins.
The Soviet Government, occupied with the battle, put aside the Polish
problem for the time being and only in the winter, when the Germans
were firmly checked 120 kilometres before Moscow and the battle of
Stalingrad had been won (the first great success, and the turning point
of the war on the Eastern front), did the Kremlin start a new phase in
its offensive against the Western world and its first bastion—Poland.
Most important of all the achievements of Moscow's diplomacy at that
time was the blow aimed at the future Polish-Czech Federation.
Polish opinion was unanimously of the conviction that, had Poland
been united with Czecho-Slovakia, the history of the Second Great War
would have followed a different path. Before the war, the main obstacle
against such a union had been the enmity between the two countries.
It was an enmity, in fact, which did not have a very solid foundation, the
sole cause being in the rivalry over a small portion of land—Teshea
Silesia, a few hundred square miles.
Prior to the Great War, this district was part of the Habsburg Empire,
and, according to the last census taken by the Austrians in 1910, was in-
habited by 69.3 per cent Poles, 18.2 per cent Czechs and 12.4 per cent
Germans. Under the Agreement of 1918, effected on the spot by the local
Czech and Polish National Committees, Teshen Silesia had become part
of Polish territory; an arrangement which was further strengthened by an
agreement between the Governments of both countries. When, however,
Poland in 1919 was threatened by the Bolsheviks, the Czechs, disregarding
this Agreement, had invaded and occupied Teshen. Lengthy discussions
ensued, and finally the Council of Ambassadors in Paris decided (this was
during the critical days of the Red invasion of Poland) on a frontier which
left most of Teshen Silesia to Czecho-Slovakia. This award amounted to
sixty-nine boroughs and villages containing a Polish population of 90 per
cent, while Poland was not given one borough or village with a Czech
majority, Poland was in a most precarious position at that time—the Soviet
troops were approaching Warsaw and, therefore, she could do nothing.
In September, 1938, when Czecho-Slovakia was subjected to a powerful
German pressure, the Polish Government let it be known that it was ex-
pecting the problem of Teshen to be settled in the same way as the other
minority problems in Czecho-Slovakia, Dr, Benes sent a letter to the